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"Fairy Poet" Li Bai
    2007-12-03 13:41:05     CRIENGLISH.com

A painting of Li Bai. [File photo: sohu.com]

Li Bai was a famous poet during the Tang Dynasty. His extraordinary confidence, independent personality, unconstrained emotion, and romantic temperament embodied the character and spirit of writers in the High Tang period.

Li Bai's ancestral home was in today's Gan Su. His poems show that his family was rich and cultivated. Even as a child, he was an avid book reader and soon had become very proficient with the sword. In his twenties, Li Bai began to travel. His experiences and encyclopedic knowledge help him achieve great success in writing. Despite primitive printing techniques, Li Bai became well known among his contemporaries.

Writers of the time would usually take the imperial exam, and then go into an official career. Li Bai pursued his ambitions in the capital of Chang'an. Because of his fame and connections, he was given an official position in the palace in the first year of Tian Bao(742AD). This would be some of the greatest experiences of Li Bai's lifetime. However, Li Bai believed he deserved more and felt his talents weren't recognized enough by the palace. He eventually learned that the empire only regarded him as a hack writer and his notoriety led to distrust. In despair, he left Chang'an, and began to wander about the world again.

Li Bai ended up spending most of his life traveling. During his travels, he wrote many poems about nature. These popular poems combined exaggeration and vivid analogy. Here are some examples of verses: "Traveling on the roads in Shu is harder than scaling the blue sky" (Hard Roads in Shu), "see how the Yellow River's waters move out of heaven, entering the ocean, never to return" (Drinking You A Toast), and "The 3000-foot-long fall is straight to fly; Is the Milky Way falling from the sky?" (Overlook at Lushan Fall)

Li Bai left behind more than 900 poems and pieces prose. His poems were ingenious and unusual and created great momentum among writers. They had an immense influence on the literature of the late ages and earned Li Bai the title of "Fairy Poet".

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